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ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT (EIS)

Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is defined as: A report, based on studies, disclosing the likely or certain environmental consequences of a proposed action, this altering the decision maker, the public and the government to environmental risks involved; the finding enable better informed decisions to be made, perhaps to reject or defer the proposed action or permit it subject to compliance with specific conditions. The EIS is a document prepared by an expert agency on the environmental impact of a proposed action / project that significantly affects the quality of environment. The EIS is used mainly as a tool for decision making. At times, the EIA and EIS are used interchangeably as synonyms. But both are difference between the two is that the EIA is carried out by the expert agency while the EIS as a tool is given to the decision makers in different formats. As a matter of fact, the EIS is the outcome of EIA. It is better to consider the environmental consequences during the project planning and design stage itself so as to avoid higher costs of future remedial actions by prudent planning and early preventive measures.

Purpose
The purpose of an EIS is: 1. To help public officials make decisions that are based on an understanding of environmental consequences and take actions that protect, restore, and enhance the environment. 2. To identify ways that environmental effects can be avoided or significantly reduced. 3. To prevent significant, avoidable effects to the environment by requiring changes in projects through the use of alternatives or mitigation measures when the governmental agency finds the changes to be feasible. 4. To disclose to the public the environmental information and analyses upon which Federal decisions will be based. The EIS describes the proposed activity and the natural and human environments, presents an analysis of potential adverse effects on these environments, describes potential mitigation measures to reduce adverse environmental effects, describes alternatives to the proposal, and presents a record of consultation and coordination with others during EIS preparation. The following text briefly describes the EIS process. The first step of the analysis is the identification of significant environmental and socioeconomic resources through the scoping process.

Objectives of EIS (a) To identify and describe (in as quantified a manner as possible) the environmental resources / values (ER / Vs) or the environmental attributes (EA) which will be affected by the proposed project, under existing or with or without project conditions. (b) To describe, measure, and assess the environmental effect that the proposed project will have on the ER / Vs (again, in as quantified a manner as possible), including positive effects which enhance ER / Vs as well as the negative effects which impair them. Direct or indirect and short term or long term effects are to be considered. This would also include the description of the specific ways by which the project plan or design will minimize the adverse effects and maximize positive effects. (c) To describe the alternatives to the proposed project which could accomplish the same result but with a different set of environmental effects. Energy generation by thermal, hydro, and nuclear would explain the case in point. Further, alternative locations are also considered.

Preparation and Content of the EIS


In addition to discussing the expected environmental impact of the proposed action, and alternatives to the proposed action, the EIS must describe the relationship between local short-term uses of [the human] environment and the maintenance and enhancement of longterm productivity. An EIS must also include discussion of any irreversible and irretrievable commitments of resources which would be involved in the proposed action should it be implemented. In developing a Draft EIS, the lead agency must coordinate with co-operating agencies. The Draft EIS will serve as the basis for public review and comment, and include adequate discussion of environmental conditions, environmental impacts, alternatives to the proposal, and mitigation measures. The Final EIS must include the agencys responses to comments, as well as a discussion of any opposing views that were not adequately discussed in the Draft EIS. The lead agency will ultimately base the Record of Decision (discussed below) on the Final EIS. The CEQ regulations assert that the EIS itself should be analytic in nature (rather than encyclopedic), concise, and no longer than absolutely necessary to comply with NEPA and the CEQ regulations. Environmental impacts must be discussed in a manner that reflects their relative significance. Although contractors usually draft the EIS itself, Federal agencies carry full legal responsibilities for carrying out the EIS process and ensuring NEPAs objectives are met. An

EIS should include a disclosure statement verifying that the contractor preparing the EIS does not have an interest in the outcome of the proposal. In addition to avoiding possible conflicts of interest, this requirement helps assure the public that the analysis of the EIS is objective and free of self-serving research and analysis. Generally speaking, any delegation of work pursuant to NEPA should be performed in as objective a manner as possible. When an agency makes substantial changes to a proposed action that relate to environmental considerations, or where new information is made available regarding the environmental impacts concerning the proposed activity, the agency is required to prepare a Supplemental EIS.

Flexibility in Preparing Multiple EISs Tiering


Tiering refers to a procedure that allows an agency to develop a broad, initial EIS and incorporate it by reference in future EISs. The CEQ regulations encourage agencies to tier EISs in order to eliminate duplicative research, analysis, and paperwork. This broader EIS typically addresses a national programme or policy statement. The subsequent, narrower EISs or EAs can address regional and site specific activities, but incorporate the broader EIS without having to repeat the process of producing the same information. Tiering also serves the purpose of allowing agency decision-makers to focus on the specific issues related to the action in question. The subsequent EIS must also indicate where the earlier EIS is available. Depending on the project, tiering may also apply to different stages of related actions.

Consideration of Alternatives
One of the most important features of NEPA is the requirement that an EIS consider the potential benefits and impacts of alternatives to the proposal, including the alternative of taking no action. As stated in the CEQ regulations, the requirement for alternatives is at the heart of the environmental impact statement, and should sharply define the issues and provide a clear basis for the choice among options by the decision-making authority and the public. An EIS must discuss how the alternatives will or will not achieve NEPAs policy objectives, and other environmental laws and policies. Likewise, agencies may not make any effort to prejudice the selection of an alternative before the final decision. An EIS may consider an infinite number of alternatives. Agencies are required to rigorously explore and objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. (Emphasis added.) These include alternatives that may fall outside the jurisdiction of the agency

responsible for completing an EIS (so long as they are reasonable). Agencies must give detailed treatment of each alternative in order to promote more effective and meaningful comparison. Consideration of the alternative of no action is a particularly important part of the EIS process. The no action alternative is defined as one in which there is either no change from the current direction or intensity of the activity, or where the proposed action would not take place. In some instances, no action may in fact have significant environmental consequences. For example, if a permit is denied to build a railroad facility, this may lead to an increase in road congestion and local air pollution. Where no action by the agency would result in predictable actions by others, this should be included in the EIS analysis. The no action alternative gives the agency a baseline from which to evaluate any changes to the current condition of the proposed site for each alternative and the proposed action. In the Draft EIS, the lead agency must identify a preferred alternative, that is, the alternative which the agency believes would fulfill its statutory mission and responsibilities, giving consideration to economic, environmental, technical and other factors. The lead agency is also responsible for identifying the Environmentally Preferable Alternative. This alternative is defined as one which would best promote the national environmental policy declared in Section 101 of NEPA. If an EIS is prepared, the Record of Decision (ROD) must include a discussion of all alter- natives that were considered in the EIS, and specifically identify the Environmentally Preferable Alternative.

Consideration of Mitigation Measures


The EIS and the ROD must each discuss mitigation measures that could reduce the potential impacts of the proposed action or alternatives. For example, these measures include design or technological approaches that would decrease pollution emissions, minimize impacts of construction, or reduce aesthetic impacts. Mitigation measures may also address relocation assistance for local communities, possible land use controls, or other efforts to reduce environmental impacts. Mitigation measures must be developed wherever feasible in the environmental impact analysis. In order to provide a clear assessment of potential environmental effects of the proposed activity, the EIS and ROD must also discuss the likelihood that mitigation measures will be adopted, implemented, and enforced by responsible agencies. If there is a history of nonenforcement of or opposition to such measures, the EIS or ROD must also discuss this. As with

alternatives, the EIS and ROD must consider even those mitigation measures that may be outside the jurisdiction of the lead agency or cooperating agencies. Mitigation measures should also be considered in those cases where the environmental impacts are not found to be significant. In such situations, the EA or FONSI should include discussion of mitigation measures or alternatives to assist agencies in planning and decisionmaking. As decided by the responsible agency, mitigation measures can be required in the final decision as enforceable permit conditions or adopted as part of the agencys final

decision in the same manner as they are adopted in the formal ROD.

Consideration of Environmental Effects and Cumulative Impacts


In order to ensure that Federal agencies provide adequate analysis of environmental impacts, the CEQ regulations describe specific kinds of impacts that should be included in an EIS. The EIS must address the environmental impacts of all alternatives, including the proposed action and the no action alternative. The discussion must also address the relationship between short-term uses of [the human] environment and any irreversible or irretrievable commitments of resources which would be involved in the proposal should it be implemented. More specifically, the discussion of environmental consequences must address each of the following: (a) D irect effects and their significance; (b) Indirect effects and their significance; (c) Possible conflicts between the proposed action and the objectives of Federal, regional, state, and local land use plans, policies and controls for the area concerned. (d) Environmental effects of alternatives, including the proposed action (e) Energy requirements and conservation potential of various alternatives and mitigation measures. (f) Natural or depletable resource requirements and conservation potential of various alternatives and mitigation measures; (g) U rban q u a l i t y , historic a n d cultural resources, and the design of the built environment, including the reuse and conservation potential of various alter- natives and mitigation

measures; and (h) Measures of mitigating adverse environmental impacts. (Emphasis added.) The term direct effects refers to impacts that are caused by the action and occur at the same time and place. Indirect effects refers to impacts that is later in time or further in distance, but that are still reasonably foreseeable. Such effects may include impacts that cause changes to land use patterns, population density or growth rates, and air, water, ecosystems, or other natural systems. Generally speaking, effects can be ecological, aesthetic, historic, cultural, economic, social, or health-related. An important consideration in the assessment process is that, in addition to direct and indirect effects, the CEQ regulations require the EIS to consider cumulative impacts. These include those impacts of an action which result from the incremental impacts that are added to any other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions. By considering cumulative

impacts, the EIS can assist governments and the public in considering the impact of actions that individually may appear to be minor, but that become significant when treated collectively. COMMENT ON THE EIS Agencies are required to circulate all Draft and Final EISs for review and comment to the following: (1) All Federal agencies with jurisdiction or special expertise in environmental impacts being considered in the EIS, as well as any appropriate Federal, State, or local government authorized to develop and enforce environmental standards; (2) The applicant; and (3) Any person, organisation, or agency requesting the entire EIS. (Emphasis added.) Before preparing a Final EIS, and before a final decision can be made, the responsible agency must circulate the Draft EIS for comment. This agency must collect comments from all cooperating agencies and any Federal agency with jurisdiction or relevant environmental expertise, or with appropriate environmental authority. The agency must also request the comments from appropriate state and local government agencies with environmental authority, affected Indian tribes, and the applicant. Finally, the agency must take affirmative steps to request comments from the public, including those individuals or organizations that may be interested or affected by the proposed activity. Affected Federal agencies are required to

provide comments on an EIS, although a Federal agency, including a cooperating agency, may satisfy this requirement by replying that it has no comment. In addition to the requirement that the responsible agency must assess and consider all comments on the Draft EIS, the agency is required to respond to agencies, organisations, or members of the public who provided comments. Responses may address a request, for example, to modify alternatives, to consider additional alternatives, to supplement or improve the analysis in the EIS, or to make corrections to the EIS. The Final EIS must discuss the responses given to comments, and all substantive comments must be attached to the Final EIS, whether or not the agency considers the comment in the text. The responses given to the agency should normally result in substantive changes to the text, and not simply be included as an attachment. Any person, organisation, or agency that submitted substantive comments on a Draft EIS must also receive a copy of the Final EIS. RECORD OF DECISION (ROD) Following completion of a Final EIS, each agency must make a final decision on the proposed activity in the form of a public Record of Decision. The ROD must include a statement of the final decision, and identify all alternatives considered in reaching the decision. The ROD must also specify the environmentally preferable alternative, based on economic and technical considerations and agency statutory missions, as well as other considerations of national policy. The ROD must explain the agencys reasoning in selecting among alternatives, and state whether all practicable mitigation measures have been adopted to minimise environmental impacts, and if not, why not. As a public document, the ROD must be available to the public through appropriate public notice as required in the CEQ regulations (see below). Nevertheless, there is no specific requirement that the ROD itself be published, either in the Federal Register or elsewhere.

IMPLEMENTATION AND ENFORCEMENT OF THE DECISION


In order to assure that decisions made in the EIS process are carried out, the lead agency and other appropriate consenting agencies must adopt a monitoring and enforcement programme to implement any mitigation measures described in the ROD. Pursuant to this requirement, the lead agency must take steps to implement the decisions by including appropriate conditions in grants, permits, or other approvals, and condition funding of actions on effective implementation of mitigation measures. Upon request, the lead agency must inform cooperating agencies (and agencies commenting on the Draft EIS) on progress in carrying out mitigation measures and adopted in the ROD. The lead agency must also make all monitoring results available to the public. Pursuant to the requirements established under Federal administrative law, agencies are accountable for preparing Records of Decision and for implementing and enforcing the actions set out in a ROD. An agency is generally required to comply with its own decisions and regulations once they are adopted; one must therefore comply with its ROD. Thus, a ROD may be used to compel compliance with or implementation of the mitigation measures it provides.